Advice guru lands TV role

Tiffanie Davis Henry, an Atlanta sex therapist, has devoted her professional life to helping couples build strong relationships. Now, the 35-year-old Lithonia woman has to apply that expertise to her own life.

Two months ago, Davis Henry landed a plum role in a new ABC show devoted to women’s health and lifestyle. The job — her first on a daily TV program — required Davis Henry to take an apartment in New York, where she’s on set five days a week.

Her husband still lives in Atlanta.

“We Skype and text all the time and make a point of connecting every day, but it’s those everyday things like cuddling when it’s cold that’s hard,” said Davis Henry, speaking from New York last week after a long day of taping.

Describing herself as a private person, Davis Henry will soon become known to millions of viewers across the country when “The Revolution” debuts Monday in the 2 p.m. time slot formerly held by “One Life to Live.”

She’ll join Ty Pennington from “Extreme Makeover,” style guru Tim Gunn of “Project Runway” and celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak, all of whom are better known than her. The show also features an ob-gyn, Dr. Jennifer Ashton.

J.D. Roth, co-creator of “Biggest Loser” and executive producer of “The Revolution,” said it took a “deep dive” to find Davis Henry. He and his team considered and passed on several therapists before stumbling upon Davis Henry.

Davis Henry had very little TV experience, but Roth was smitten after her big test screening in Los Angeles.

“We had this woman who was talking about how it was very hard for to her find time to work out ... and you are expecting Tiffanie to give some real medical advice, and she says, ‘That’s fine honey, as long as you know your [behind] is going to spread.’ It’s like she can tell you something a therapist would tell you, but also something a friend could tell you,” said Roth.

Roth said Tiffanie continued to nail the audition by mixing lively “girlfriend talk” with expert advice.

“She turned to the woman and tried to motivate her. She said, ‘We both know this is not what you want.’ And then she helped the woman put together a plan. She ended with a real takeaway this woman can use in her life,” said Roth.

Despite her training as a sex and relationship therapist, “The Revolution” will actually focus more on obesity in women.

It’s based on the premise that a simple diet and exercise program may not be enough to tackle obesity. The mix of experts will go beyond body issues and try to give a makeover to the marriage, the house, the wardrobe.

The daily show will follow one woman’s journey every week. Each day’s episode will capture one month of the quest, with Friday being the fifth and final month of the transformation.

The show will feature less extreme examples of obesity than NBC’s “The Biggest Loser,” the prime-time show and king of the weight-loss genre.

“We are looking for the more regular mom” said Roth. “Most of these women are 20, 40, 50 pounds overweight. But it’s not just about weight. These women want good relationships with their husbands and children, they want to be creative. They want jobs with meaning. They want to look and feel beautiful.”

Davis Henry said figuring out why a woman is overweight is actually not so different from getting to the heart of intimacy woes.

“With my practice most people come saying they have a sex issue with their partner, but most of the time, it’s not a sex issue, it’s anger and resentment, and the sex tends to be the symptom,” said Davis Henry.

“The same goes with being overweight. You’ll find the relationship with food has taken over. Sometimes it’s a trauma or sudden loss. It’s an emotional struggle. My job is to peel back those many layers of the onion and figure out what’s going on and then, let’s fix it.”

Several years ago, Davis Henry opened her practice in Atlanta and saw about six clients a day, most of whom were women. She has a masters in professional counseling and became a sex therapist after obtaining her doctorate in human sexuality education.

A few years ago, Davis Henry started a call-in Internet radio program and was invited to be a guest on VH1’s “What Chilli Wants,” TLC’s “My Strange Addiction” and the syndicated “Swift Justice with Nancy Grace.”

In her personal life, Davis Henry said she shuns being the center of attention. At home, she said she’s a “cuddlebug” who enjoys being home with her husband and dog.

But she’s also curious and enjoys helping people.

“One of the producers said that I am the sassy next door neighbor,” said Davis Henry. “I might be a little nosy, but I am coming from a good place.”


TV Preview

“The Revolution”

2 p.m. Mon.-Fri., ABC